Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for COVID-19, Buckingham Palace said on Sunday. Few details were released about the queen’s condition, but Buckingham Palace did say she was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms.” Officials seemed to take pains to try to minimize the issue by saying that the monarch, who turns 96 in April, would “continue light duties” over the coming week. “She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines,” the palace said in a statement.
News of the queen’s diagnosis came days after her oldest son and heir, Prince Charles, tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 10, two days after he met with his mother. He has since returned to work. Several people are also believed to have tested positive at Windsor Castle.
The diagnosis was made public a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the lifting of all remaining pandemic restrictions in England. Among the new measures, England is expected to drop the legal requirement that those who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate. So far there are no signs the queen’s diagnosis will change the timing of the announcement.
Although the queen’s health is rarely discussed in detail, experts said it’s likely that the monarch will receive one of the antiviral drugs that have been approved to treat COVID. “If you do get them early enough, it does reduce the risk of severe disease developing, so I would imagine any doctor for a patient in their 90s would be considering giving these antivirals,” Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, tells the Associated Press. Buckingham Palace said the queen received the first of a COVID-19 vaccine in January of last year but has since refused to confirm any information about subsequent doses although media reports that she is fully vaccinated have not been denied.
News of the queen’s diagnosis was quickly followed by an outpouring of support for the world’s longest-reigning monarch. “I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing Her Majesty The Queen a swift recovery from COVID and a rapid return to vibrant good health,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted.